State Question 793 Could Lead To Far Lower Eyewear Prices For Oklahomans
Oklahoma has so many state questions on our ballots. In many cases those voter initiative petitions are a testament to a failed legislature. We have a legislature which has been purchased by trade groups and special interests. They use state law to keep other Oklahomans from challenging their protected market share, and force the consumers into paying higher prices for less available product choices.
This is especially true of the retail eyewear industry. Yes, the consumer still needs to see a licensed eye doctor in order to obtain a valid eyewear prescription. I guess pair of glasses with an old prescription can kill you or cause blindness? It might even be contagious and cause your coworkers and neighbors to develop eye ailments?
In most other states you can shop for prescription eyewear at competitive prices at any licensed retailer, including the local department stores and mega retail giants (gasp!).
But in Oklahoma you must shop at the little specialty stores run by a group of sanctioned merchants who meet the special requirements of our protectionist state laws. No; Target, JC Penny, Kohls, Walmart, & other department stores are not allowed to compete with the little specialty shops.
Now we have a new option for most Oklahoma consumer. It's called the internet. When I first succumbed to the reality that my 50 year old eyes needed help, I went to the most popular local optician shop in Tulsa. I was offered an exam and 2 pair of glasses for $99. But by the time I got out of there I had spent over $300 for the needed eyewear which works for me and is even remotely close to stylish.
When I got home I decided to look at internet retailing options. one of the several websites selling prescription eyewear was Zenni Optical. They offered me a simple pair of prescription eyeglasses for $6.95. By the time I added a few necessary options and some 'no-line bifocals', I got a really good pair of glasses for under $50. I never bought my eyewear locally, ever again.
So how does internet retail help the Oklahoma economy? Nada! How does it help me? Hugely! And Oklahoma Opticians have no viable efforts to be truly competitive with internet eyewear retailers. It is time to let the department stores and other retailers fill prescriptions for eyeglasses.